I joined Andrew in the Glasshouse in the Sky, above an old warehouse in Broad Street - a wonderful place in which to work, chock-a-block with Andrew's work, and full of people. Most offices are dark holes but mine seemed on top of the world, with its amazing views. We now work in Andrew's new studio-cum-home, designed by his partner, Michael, who made it into another Glasshouse.
I usually arrive at the office at 11am, and because the building is open- plan I can hear Andrew already hard at work. The atmosphere is full of shimmering colours, shadows, glints and gleams from his glass and mirror sculptures. Although Andrew and his helpers are upstairs I never feel alone, because behind me are the mirror portraits of Andrew's friends, such as Zandra Rhodes and Fenella Fielding, to keep me company. His cat, Miss Tibbles, also interrupts me regularly with a tap on my shoulder.
While I work, there's almost always music upstairs - from songs of the Fifties to the latest tape Andrew's brought back from China.
The post is mostly concerned with people wanting to see his work or give him a show and there are plenty of letters from students offering to help him in the studio. All of the letters get replies, so there's a lot of writing to do. Andrew is the sort of man who never says no and although there are points when I will say, "no you can't do that, it's not possible", he rarely takes any notice. I worry about him getting overtired, but what can you do?
Andrew often calls to me for my opinion on something he is working on. Is a portrait too fat or thin, and do I like the colours? I wouldn't be interested in my job unless I were involved. I look at his stuff and think, how did he create that? For so many of us it seems to be impossible to bring that creative drive out, but I feel I play a part in freeing his.
We all stop for lunch together, Michael, Andrew's students and I, chatting whilst Andrew cooks for us. After lunch I often work on Andrew's jewellery; he usually leaves the costing and pricing of the pieces to me. I'm very much involved in the sales he holds across the country, usually travelling with half-a-dozen or so of Andrew's friends to model the jewellery to music, which is great fun.
We've travelled all over England together and of course there are regular trips to Andrew's museum in Wales. But my most unusual role is as official scorekeeper at the Alternative Miss World which Andrew organises.
Although I officially finish work between 7pm and 8pm I often carry on, because I like to get the day's tasks out of the way. I really enjoy seeing Andrew's work grow, and encouraging people to come and see it, want it and have it. Andrew's got a lot of creative friends who love to come to the Glasshouse because of its free and happy atmosphere. It's lovely to hear them exchanging creative interests, as well as seeing them express their love of life simply in their appearance.
One of the most exciting things to happen to me was when we started building the new Glasshouse together, and the worst was when it was broken into whilst Andrew was away. I was the first person on the scene and was horrified by the experience, but several weeks later the stolen pieces mysteriously turned up in black plastic bags on the doorstep.
I feel part of Andrew's large family, and I think the experience of working for him has changed me considerably - very much for the better, according to my daughter. To work for an artist one needs to be sensitive and understanding of his mood. One also needs to be efficient, so that he can be free to concentrate on absorbing himself in his work. Andrew's also very active, and simply can't stand still. The other day, whilst we were at the garden show at Hampton Court looking for flowers for the museum, the rain began to bucket down and we ran to shelter, but Andrew soon got fidgety and said, "Betty, it's time to roll up our trousers, take off our shoes and wade to the next marquee", and we did. He's eccentric and I love him for it. I'm really not interested in working for anyone elsen
Interview by Katie SampsonReuse content